Right task, Right time

A short while back, at an event, I had a conversation with a friend who wanted to learn how to use Spreadsheet software. He could do basic things using a spreadsheet but had come to realise just how versatile the skillset could be. However, he mentioned not having enough time to learn. I asked him a few questions about how best he learnt. Did he prefer classroom settings, one-on-one learning, self-taught or online classes? Knowing this would help him figure out how to create time to improve his spreadsheet skills. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish the conversation as we had to move on to other activities.

Now or Later

The conversation struck me because a lot of people have tasks on their goal list which they somehow never seem to get started on. If you are familiar with an Eisenhower matrix, the tasks that tend to suffer this the most are the tasks that fall into the Important and not urgent quadrant. Tasks in that quadrant are important enough to write down but since they don’t have to be done immediately, they get relegated to the Someday, maybe list and become prime targets for procrastination. This is often most experienced when trying to form a new habit such as reading 15 pages every day.

We all have different levels of energy and focus across the day. Most people are at their most alert and focused during the day. Some are more productive in the afternoon while a very rare few are more active at night. Most people have a very intuitive idea of what time of the day they have the most mental energy. Sometimes a task does not get done simply because you have been trying to do it at the wrong time of the day. Perhaps the task requires a lot of energy and focus. It won’t get done if you try to do it at night while you are struggling to keep your eyes open.

Don’t get lost in planning

Experiment doing the same task at different times and see what works for you. If you are having trouble exercising in the morning, try doing it in the evening and see if you find it easier to build a consistent habit. If you can’t read at night, try it in the morning or during lunch break. Different times will work better for different people.

A task is more likely to get completed if you can match it to your energy levels and schedule. If like my Friend you are trying to learn a new skill but can’t seem to get started, it might be because you are yet to find the right time of the day for it.

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